Amazing Gracie: Violin-piano duo launch debut album

Home sweet home: Gracie and Rachel in their Bushwick loft.
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It’s a high school musical story.

Bushwick violin-and-piano duo Gracie and Rachel — named after its two stars — will launch a self-titled debut album that has been years in the making at Union Pool on July 19. The two ladies met as high school students in California, and their friendship stuck and evolved into a dynamic partnership on the stage, said Grace Coates, the band’s piano player and lead vocalist.

“We met in high school in a dance class actually, when we were about 16 or 17, and we were assigned to make a song for the dance show,” she said. “It was kind of like an arranged marriage kind of thing, and we ended up really enjoying playing together.”

Coates and her musical other half — violinist Rachel Ruggles — went on to study their respective instruments at universities hundreds of miles apart, but they continued to play together online, and finally moved across the country to Bushwick to perform together, said Coates.

“We’d have Skype rehearsals so we could rehearse and just really keep the kind of creative song writing alive from afar,” she said. “We started to realize the bond was getting stronger and would only get better if we could only be in the same city.”

Coates’s poetic vocals and pop piano chords complement Ruggles’s more classical approach with the violin, but it is easy for the two to follow each other’s sonic leads, said Ruggles.

“The poetry is really all in Gracie’s voice — she was encouraged to be her own songwriter and be more inventive, she wasn’t schooled in classical perspective where I was more rigorously involved in traditional classical studies,” said Ruggles. “I think those two different backgrounds coming together and complement our situation well.”

The duo cannot wait to unveil their debut album, and they have planned some exciting visual surprises for the launch party, said Coates.

“We’re really excited about it, it’s been a long time in the making and we really pulled together a lot of different elements for this show and record to bring that to life,” she said.

Gracie and Rachel at Union Pool (484 Union Ave. at Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg, July 19 at 7 pm. $10.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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